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The Hashmite Kingdom of Jordan (in Arabic Al-Urdunn, officially Al-Mamlaka al-Urdunnijja al-Hashimjja) is situated in the Near East. With an area of 88 582 km², the kingdom is about as large as Austria. Jordan has four neighbouring countries: Israel to the west, Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast and Saudi Arabia to the east and south. A 26 km long coastline connects the country with the Gulf of Aqaba, which provides access to the Red Sea.

Jordan is divided into three landscape areas: firstly, the Jordanian part of the Jordan Rift; secondly, the East Jordanian Highlands (the highest mountain in the country, Jabal Ram, stands here at 1,754 m); and thirdly, the desert plateaux in the east. These are structured by so-called wadis, deep valleys, and belong to the great Arabian Desert. On the border with Israel, Jordan has a share in the Dead Sea (Arabic: Al-Bahr-al-Maijit), a salt lake without outflow, which at 1,020 km² is almost twice the size of Lake Constance. Its deepest point is 398 m below sea level, making it the deepest landscape on the earth’s surface. The longest and most water-rich river in the country is the Jordan (Arabic Al-Urdunn). It has a length of 330 km and rises in the area between Syria, Lebanon and Israel. It runs through the Huletal valley, the northern section of the Jordan Graben, and the Sea of Galilee in many meanders in the depression of the Jordan Graben, to finally flow into the Dead Sea.

Political System

Jordan is a constitutional hereditary monarchy under the 1952 Constitution. The king (Abdullah II since February 1999) is also head of state, commander-in-chief of the army and holder of executive power. He appoints the Prime Minister (since October 2012 Abdullah Ensur), the members of the Senate and the judges of the Kingdom. Legislative power lies with the Parliament, which is divided into two chambers. One is the Chamber of Deputies, with 150 members elected for four years. Of these, 27 are elected by proportional representation at national level and 108 by majority voting at local level. A further 15 seats are reserved for women. The other chamber is the Senate, whose 60 members are appointed by the King for four years.

  • The legal system is based on Islamic and French law, the International Court of Justice is not recognised by the Kingdom.
  • The country’s administration is divided into twelve administrative districts.


The basic economic conditions for the Kingdom are difficult. The country lacks its own energy sources, and the notorious shortage of water combined with high population growth poses major problems for the country. The existing economic structures are based on a limited internal market. 15 % of Jordanians live in poverty, the official unemployment rate of 15 % must probably be doubled in order to maintain its real value. The efforts made since 1999 to liberalise and integrate the economy internationally (e.g. through free trade agreements with the USA and association agreements with the EU) have not yet shown much success, especially since dependence on oil supplies from other Arab states increased drastically after the Iraq war in 2003.

The water shortage of recent years has had a strong impact on agricultural exports. Especially in the Jordan Rift Valley – often supported by artificial irrigation – cereals, lentils, vetches, tobacco, tomatoes, olives, figs and pomegranates are cultivated. Citrus fruits, bananas and melons are also important crops.

68% of the gross domestic product is generated in the service sector and 29% in industry. The industrial sector is dominated by phosphate mining, and Jordan is the world’s second largest exporter of this raw material. Accordingly, the country’s most important industrial enterprises are a phosphate factory, a cement plant and an oil refinery. Besides Iraq, the USA, India and Saudi Arabia are among the most important export buyers. The most important imported goods are crude oil, chemical products, foodstuffs, vehicles, machinery and industrial goods. The main exports are chemicals (medicines and fertilizers), phosphate products (phosphate and potash), textiles and fruit and vegetables.

The ancient cities of Petra, Aqaba, Gerasa and the desert castles of the Umayyad Caliphs form the basis for flourishing tourism, which is an important source of foreign exchange for the country, which is poor in raw materials.

Jordan is a member of the WTO. An economic free zone in the region of the port city of Aqaba was opened in 2001. Amman and Aqaba are the country’s international airports. Jordanian currency is the dinar (= 1 000 Fils).